Last Friday was Juneteenth, and the annual observance received more media attention than it typically does. Although we are not endorsing any particular perspective conveyed in the press, the increased attention to Juneteenth gives all of us the opportunity to do these things:
- Learn more about Juneteenth. Juneteenth is aptly described as “our country’s second independence day” in this article from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. This list of children’s books can help you learn more about the holiday as a family.
- Consider what happens when people unite around a cause. It took two and a half years for enslaved people to learn they were free, largely because many Confederate states were united in keeping that information from them. When all enslaved people were finally freed on June 19, 1865, a tremendous period of growth and hope followed as formerly enslaved people united to build their vision of a country with freedom and opportunity for all. The causes we unite around can change the course of history for good or for ill.
- Reflect on the continued impact of racial injustice and its relationship to mental health and disabilities. Every family who is part of Families as Allies knows what is like to see our children struggle and face challenges with systems that don’t respond to them. Our hearts and actions are united as we work together to make things better for ALL of our children. At the same time, we know from our calls that children of color, especially young African American men, often are treated more harshly when they face the same challenges that many of our children do. This differential treatment causes additional untold trauma and mental health repercussions.
As we’ve reflected on Juneteenth as an organization, this is our biggest takeaway: We are committed to both addressing the challenges that ALL of our children face and fighting the discrimination and racism that ANY of our children face. We are in this together.